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Northwestern student death ruled a drowning

Missing Northwestern student HarshMaddula.

Missing Northwestern student Harsha Maddula.

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Updated: October 30, 2012 6:07AM

The Northwestern University student whose body was pulled from Wilmette Harbor Thursday drowned, a Friday autopsy determined, but authorities don’t know why he went into the water.

Harsha Maddula’s manner of death was listed as “undetermined” Friday as investigators continue to probe what happened.

Earlier Friday, Maddula’s family said that they don’t believe Harsha Maddula killed himself or that his disappearance was related to a rare form of diabetes.

“There is no reason to believe that Harsha was suicidal or that this had anything to do with his diabetic condition,” family spokeswoman and friend Padma Sonti said in a statement to reporters.

Sonti, while thanking authorities for their work in searching for Maddula, said speculation about what led to his death is “counterproductive.”

Police said there were no signs of foul play.

“There was no trauma to the body, no signs of a struggle near the scene and absolutely nothing to indicate to the investigators that his death was the result of foul play,” Wilmette police said in a statement.

Maddula, a biomedical student from New York with dreams of being a doctor, disappeared after an off-campus party last Friday. The search for Maddula ended Thursday when authorities pulled his body from Wilmette Harbor, officials said.

Authorities confirmed the 18-year-old sophomore’s identity through a college ID card found in his wallet. His cellphone also was in his pocket when his body was discovered floating in the harbor between two boats just before 7 p.m. A man fishing off a pier near Sheridan Road bridge discovered the body.

In a statement, Bradley Stewart, the student government’s executive vice president, said: “We are profoundly saddened by the loss of Harsha, a cherished member of our Northwestern community. The loss of a friend is always difficult. . . . Tonight our community grieves our loss. Northwestern has and always will be a resilient community. The support from the student body over the past few days, including that of over 600 student volunteers searching and flyering with local law enforcement officials, is a testament to the deep compassion that Northwestern students feel for each other.”

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